GOP making counteroffer to Kavanaugh accuser

Senate Republicans are putting together a counteroffer to Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, with a new offer to testify Wednesday and answer questions from a special counsel. 

The offer under discussion would have Ford testify first before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday and then give Kavanaugh a chance to follow her with a response. 

A source familiar with the proposal said Republicans are willing to agree to limit television coverage to one camera in the room. 

Some Senate Republicans would like to have an independent, outside counsel — preferably a woman — ask the questions so as not to appear insensitive to her claims of trauma. But the issue hasn’t yet been resolved. 

A Senate Democratic aide said Republicans were demanding “that both sides have outside counsel" describing it as something that would the hearing feel more like a trial. The aide said Ford’s lawyers explicitly said that this would make Ford far less comfortable. 

A Republican spokesman for the Judiciary Committee declined to comment.  

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Ford’s lawyers in a phone call with committee staff Wednesday afternoon asked that the hearing be held Thursday, that Kavanaugh testify first, and that senators — and not an outside counsel — question the witnesses. 

Ford also requested through her legal team that Kavanaugh not be present in the room when she testifies and that adequate security is provided. 

Republican staff on the call Wednesday mostly listened without providing any immediate counteroffer, according to a Republican source familiar with the conversation.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyFive takeaways from the court decision striking down ObamaCare The Year Ahead: Tough tests loom for Trump trade agenda Senate heads toward floor fight on criminal justice bill MORE (R-Iowa) had given Ford a deadline of 10 a.m. Friday to submit a biography and prepared remarks ahead of a hearing that he had originally scheduled for Monday to hear from her and Kavanaugh. 

Kavanaugh said in a letter to the committee that he was looking forward to testifying before the committee on Monday.

“I remain committed to defending my integrity,” he wrote.  

Senate Republicans have yet to reschedule the hearing.  

The Democratic aide criticized Republicans for demanding that an outside counsel ask the questions.

“Senators vote on a nomination, not outside counsel. Both sides have a right and a responsibility to ask the questions they see fit – what are the Republicans afraid of?” the aide said. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump finds himself isolated in shutdown fight Pelosi faces pressure to act on Saudi Arabia Make the First Step Act a smarter step by opening the risk assessment black box MORE (R-Ky.) pledged Friday at the Family Research Council’s annual Values Voter Summit that Kavanaugh would be confirmed. 

“In the very near future Judge Kavanaugh will be on the United States Supreme Court,” he told conservative activists. 

“Keep the faith, don’t get rattled by all of this. We’re going to plow right through it and do our job,” he said.